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Rogue satellite still 'talking'

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Staff Writers
Washington (UPI) Sep 17, 2010
An uncontrollable satellite drifting in orbit did not shut itself down as predicted and is a posing signal interference risk to other satellites, experts say.

Intelsat's Galaxy 15 communications satellite, dubbed the "zombie satellite," lost contact with its controllers in April but is stuck "on" and continues to transmit signals as its operators on Earth work to avoid potential interference with other nearby spacecraft, reported Friday.

Intelsat engineers had estimated that the satellite would lose power and shut itself off in late August, but that has not happened.

"It has not powered down yet, and it continues to drift -- but we still know where it's going, and it's still following a predictable path," Intelsat spokesman Nick Mitsis said.

Intelsat officials said there is no risk of it physically colliding with other spacecraft, so their team's main focus is preventing Galaxy 15's signals from interfering with neighboring satellites.

The 4,171-pound satellite went rogue April 5 when it stopped responding to controllers on the ground but maintained an active payload, with its telecommunications transmitter still functioning.

Several attempts to shut down Galaxy 15 have failed, leaving the defunct satellite stuck drifting in space and still "talking."

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